The Hillsborough Inquests and a 'disgraceful, inordinate delay in justice for the 96'

Posted by ap507 at Apr 26, 2016 03:55 PM |
John Williams discusses the Hillsborough Disaster and new revelations from the Inquest

Think: Leicester does not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Leicester - it expresses the independent views and opinions of the academic who has authored the piece. If you do not agree with the opinions expressed, and you are a doctoral student/academic at the University of Leicester, you may write a counter opinion for Think: Leicester and send to ap507@le.ac.uk

This has been a great week for local football fans, writes John Williams. After that savage City destruction of Swansea City on Sunday and the big leg-up from West Brom. at Spurs last night, we can all start saying now that The Foxes will win the Premier League title. If not this weekend at Manchester United then certainly, surely, against Everton in the club's next home game. Beyond belief, a fantastic achievement.

But the very formation of the Premier League, the design of its glossy and safe stadia, and the change in attitudes of police and stewards to fans over the past three decades, owes a lot to what happened at a football stadium in very different conditions a generation ago. We can only now officially say what really took place on that awful day 27 years ago.

Twenty-seven years: Hillsborough 15 April 1989. It seems like yesterday to me. I was a relatively young man then, excited at watching my club in an FA Cup semi-final on a sunny afternoon in Sheffield. This was normal enough – Liverpool FC were regulars at that time at English football's top table. Not any more: Leicester City have now taken over!

What was not 'normal' - at least not by today's standards - was the crass arrangements made for fans at that football match: our awful treatment by the police, the terrible (and ultimately fatal) facilities on offer, and the poor performance of the rescue services.

The new Inquest has finally confirmed that police mismanagement, gross mistakes, dangerous stadium facilities, an inexperienced and negligent match commander, and a basic lack of care for supporters, all contributed to a terrible disaster. Ninety-six people were lost, we can now finally say, unlawfully killed.

Honestly, how long does justice need to take? Parents whose children died at the disaster have long since long passed away before the results of the Coroner's Court in Warrington were announced today. Where is the justice for them?

The failures of the South Yorkshire police, but worse their cover up stories circulated in national newspapers and supported by the judicial system, have all contributed to this disgraceful, inordinate delay. Senior public figures watching each other's backs, with little or no care for the feelings of victims.

Football, of course, is a very different experience today. Fan safety is the watchword for police, the pens and fences used to corral supporters have long disappeared and, yes, some fans behave rather differently now. We have all learned from that terrible, sunny afternoon in Sheffield.

So, when the Blue celebrations begin here in earnest, just spare a thought for those sons and daughters, fathers and uncles - fans like you and me - who went to a game 27 years ago only to be defiled and wrongly blamed by officials for their own unlawful killing. Because their sacrifice, properly acknowledged this week, is also a crucial part of this Premier League story.

John Williams is senior lecturer in the department of sociology at the University of Leicester.

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